House sitting requires a high capacity for planning, whether it is house sitting full time internationally or in the sitters local area, or from time to time as a way to take more affordable holidays. It then goes without saying that when ever there is any planning, of anything, plans can change.
In the years I have been house sitting, I have been fortunate that the circumstances of only a couple of home owners changed, resulting in a cancellation. That was of course, until late February 2020 when the Coronavirus appeared in Europe and started to spread. At the time I was about to leave London where I had been house sitting for a month. I had a two week holiday break planned and then six months of house sits across four different European countries confirmed and booked in. As the situation was unfolding and becoming increasingly serious and intense, it did occur to me very early that home owners would very likely cancel, and this did happen in just a matter of days.
After the first cancellation I had to make decisions. Where I was going to stay? Which country and which city? and I needed to find suitable accommodation. As a seasoned traveler, and a high detail planner – I was in my element. This is just the way I am wired. In my experience most house sitters I have met share these same characteristics.
When considering that plans can and do change, house sitters first need to preempt this and give consideration to what could be the alternative arrangements if this was to happen.
The second strategy to being able to manage and cope with plans changing is to always be honest and transparent. For example, if I am asked to sit in a time and place but I can’t 100% commit I let the home owner know right away. I inform them why I can’t confirm at the time (I am usually finalising details of another house sit), and also give them the option to either contact me at a later date or I commit to a time when I can provide the home owner a commitment to sit for them or not. Then if the sit is confirmed, this gives me with the opportunity to ask the same explicit honesty from the home owners. I encourage plenty of communication from them leading up to the house sit and ask them to let me know as early as possible if their plans need to change.
Open communication and trust is essential, as there is a lot riding on both parties being able to meet their commitment. The home owner needs to feel confident that their home and pets are going to be cared for. They probably have a long overdue holiday, family or work commitment planned. The house sitter needs to have surety when making their travel arrangements (and bearing the cost of making these) that they aren’t going to be caught in a situation where they are flying into a city where they don’t have a house sit to go to.
The third thing the house sitter should do, now that Covid has changed they way people can travel is to stay informed. Especially if traveling across borders. Be it state, county or country, house sitters need to stay abreast of the situation and their ability to reach their destination.
As I stated earlier, plans can and will change, there is nothing surer. More so now. Even if both parties are not travelling, at the very least the home owner will be. Border policies, quarantine requirements and flights can alter with just days notice. If you are a home owner or house sitter and the other party has a change of plans or perhaps you need to rework your itinerary, some forethought, honesty and open communication will mean this should not come as a complete surprise. Ideally, there will be a mutual shared understanding of why the change of plans can’t be helped and a the house sit can be rescheduled at a future date.
If you need a house sitter and are ready to start making plans, or would just like some more information drop me a line and we can discuss how I can help look after your home, plants and pets while you are away.